In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…calcifies.
The me-tooism infecting the chattering class reveals all too well how little original thought — and even less deep — drives the conversation.
We saw this in the trigger-happy response to Tuesday’s Vice Presidential debate when serial liar Indiana Governor Mike Pence was declared the winner within moments.
Wait a second…actually, we saw it even before the debate, when, hours ahead of the gavel, the Republican National Committee (RNC) posted that GOP Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence had won, hoping to influence the convulsive post-debate take with palpitating confidence.
Oy vey! What an embarassment!
As partisans, of course, their reasoning would be that since Pence “won” (in advance, recall) so too had his running mate, Republican, cough-cough, Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.
But that’s another story.
Winners and Losers
After the debate, when so-called real pundits discussed the fresh meat, then the agro-pouncing really began.
And the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza of the ominously named “The Fix” column sprinted willy-nilly out of the digital gate first, posting his Winners and losers from the Vice Presidential debate file by 10:49pm debate night.
TV’s talking heads had jawboned even earlier, but, lacking a TV, I only catch the wind of things from reading news and opinion (even from the shallow waters of a Cillizza).
And shallow it was.
The FIX (HUH?)
Cillizza’s post-debate column set a tone where style over substance was the only thing that counted on Veep night/why bother night? (BT-Dubs, the VEEP debate doesn’t actually count, anyway, but, as Cillizza foamed “…MIKE PENCE WON!”)
Most post-debate follow-on MSM articles and analysis displayed the Cillizzaesque me-tooism that I mentioned earlier.
Soon there was sound agreement that Pence, a man that millions of us could manifestly see was denial-lying through his possibly synthetic teeth to a pathological degree, had “won” the debate because as he lied he…
- Kept a straight face
- Maintained a level heart rate
- Had gravitas-laden white hair.
“We hold these truths to be self evident that while all men have the right to tell a pack o’ whoppers, by gum, you’ll look dignified while piling on the horse shit!!”
I get it — style does count. Perhaps this endless slog of a demeaning presidential contest has proven that more than anything else.
Witness that while the majority reels in horror over “the Donald’s” twisted bullying, self-aggrandizement, and questionable business success, some reliably rabid portion of the aggrieved polity does eat Trump up like he’s The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus come to save the day.
And then there’s the vocal and unmovable minority who see in Secretary Clinton unredeemable and secretive Hell-tinged evil, Frankensteinesque robotic reanimation, Satan’s living (possibly breathing through hidden oxygen tanks) puppet.
Yet her more-than-ample supporters see a savviness, grace under pressure against phenomenal odds, and a fluent grasp of policies, proposals, and issues unmatched in contemporary politics.
As do the polls! (Insert conspiracy theory here!)
So okay, style matters, Americans. Blah, blah, blah.
And all that is fine until, well…When analysis funnels down to style being the largest — and even single — force at play, someone needs to rearrange the chairs in the halls of journalism.
Martin Baron stomachs this phone-it-in brand of analysis at the Post? Really?
How our heroes do fall.
But back to the inconsequential debate.
The Indispensable link
Tuesday night, in an unmatched charade, Mike Pence channelled Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer known for his pernicious lies, his singular ability to stare into the camera and unleash a host of untruths that at once lifted him up and scandalized anyone who knew the easy-to-find truth: that this guy was a scam artist of the highest order!
I’m crazy because you’re turning truth on its head?
Calgon, take me away!
Meanwhile, back in Camp Clinton, where Tim Kaine, a man who was willing to (er, who had the BALLS to) — e-gads!, serve under a woman — the real story was that a kind of prosecution was going on against Pence on debate night.
The narrative from Cillizza’s fawning punditry was, in typical “I’m no Leftist” fashion, to deem Kaine some squeaky-voiced annoyance, a 1930’s “Why I oughta…” kind of hapless cinematic do-gooder/second-stringer who, it should be noted, wouldn’t keep plying his tired case if he ACTUALLY understood the insider rules of the national political stage — “nod, nod, wink, wink, say no more, say no more!”
The rest of us saw on Tuesday night a defense attorney-turned-prosecutor who unrelentingly put Pence’s balls against the wall on the bullshit-o-meter and, let it be said, found him wanting.
When career politicians like Kaine AND Pence — AND Trump frankly (how’d he court all those NYC builder’s tax breaks if not w/ long-time politics?) — trot out the “I’m a fighter” meme it means a helluva lot more when the person is actually fighting, rather than defending, or, well, unable to defend because Trump’s a prick and Pence is a pansy and right was overwhelmingly on Kaine’s side!
Whither the Fourth Estate?
I’ll give you dollars to doughnuts that Cillizza will one day be at FOX, huckstering Donald Trump JR., as if nothing anyone says matters…but how they say it does.
“His suit was couture and his shoes blindingly polished — game OVER!”
Smile dear leaders, you’ve got a friend in Cillizza, who, btw, is busy positioning Trump’s — possible — Sunday night manners as a global shift, the normalization of insanity.
Not game over. Game ON!
— Lindsay Curren, Transition Voice